Nicky Hayden heads to this weekend's Italian MotoGP fresh from his first Open class victory of the season, at Le Mans.

Aided by a new swingarm, the Aspar Honda rider finished eleventh in France and has closed to within five points of Open class leader Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati).

Hayden is doubly determined to perform this weekend after missing last year's Mugello round due to his wrist injury.

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"I always look forward to spending time in Italy and in my opinion this is one of the biggest rounds of the season. Mugello is incredible, in terms of the circuit layout and the atmosphere," said the former world champion.

"It has one main straight and a lot of flowing corners, some faster than others but a lot in second gear. That makes it important to find a good set-up that gets you through the fast direction changes and the different kinds of corners that Mugello has.

"I missed racing in Italy last year because of the hand injury so I am doubly motivated and looking forward to getting started this Friday. There is always a magical atmosphere at this race but I think with Valentino leading the championship and the Ducatis in great form it will be a special weekend.

"My feeling with the bike finally started to come good at Le Mans so hopefully we can keep it up at Mugello. We need to be fully focused on making a strong start on Friday."

Earlier this week Hayden took part in some dirt track training at Valentino Rossi's ranch.